Peering at the Bay of Navarino today ‒ to the south of modern Pylos ‒ one sees an idyllic landscape covered with a veil of tranquillity. Houses with arches, courtyards with flower pots, it feels like you're on a Greek island. A stark contrast to the past when this bay whiffed of gunpowder and fire. Thousands of men lost their lives in this bay. Shipwrecks, naval battles, violent conflicts, but also unfortunate circumstances. All these in their passage left traces at the bottom of the sea: ship carcasses, utensils, wooden and iron objects from various periods. Thus, Navarino Bay is now a wet grave, but also a monument of reference on the history of Greece that can be visited.
In this Messenian Bay, there are 89 shipwrecks. The first dates back to 426 BCE when the Athenian fleet destroyed the Spartan. The last one was 35 years ago ‒ February 1980 ‒ the tanker Irene's Serenade, that was in one of the biggest maritime accidents that ever happened in Greece; there are plans to make it one of the most important and enchanting, maritime archaeological sites!
However, the most important shipwrecks found in the Bay of Navarino with a legendary dimension are those of the Battle of Navarino in 1827. The Russian, French and British ships won the Turks ‒ Ibrahim's fleet ‒ defining, in essence, the victorious outcome of the Greek War of Independence. This naval battle would also be recorded as the last great conflict of fleets with the use of sailing ships. Their stays can be discerned near the surface today. From Greece's allies 272 English, 198 Russians and 185 French men were killed and to honour them commemorative services took place on the three islands of Navarino Bay. Every year, Navarino Festival takes place in Pylos with great honours to remember the historical battle that consolidated the liberation of Greece.
Another legendary shipwreck from World War II is found a few meters from the beach. A Greek mercantile ship was sunk by Italian bombs 70 years ago and remained in a very good condition, behind a rocky cape. All these remnants of older civilizations are under the water, together with shoals of colourful fish.